Headlines are the single most important part of any marketing document, be it an email, a sales letter, squeeze page or paid advertisement. That’s because the headline is your first and only opportunity to capture the attention of the prospective customer.
If your headline fails to make an instant, immediate impression upon your reader, they will stop reading further and probably are lost to you forever.
The best headlines – those that grasp your page visitor by the lapels, shake them up and refuse to let go – share three common traits. If you ensure that your headlines always includes these three qualities, you can attract a greater number of prospects to spend more time with your copy and enhance your chances of converting them into a long-term customer, which is the ultimate objective of any marketing document.
Clarity Is King
The first and most important quality of any great headline is that it can be immediately understood by anybody who is reading it. The more clarity a headline has, the more appealing it will be to page visitors.
If your headline is in any way ambiguous, confusing, or doesn’t provide a clear and concise message that can be grasped instantly, it is going to turn readers away in droves. Clear, easy to understand headlines should be as specific as possible.
Remember, the people who are landing on your pages or seeing your ads are looking for solutions and answers. The last thing they want to do is to spend more time trying to figure out what is meant by an ambiguous or uncertain headline. Be as clear as you can possibly be.
Headlines Have Two Parts
The most effective headlines have two parts: The headline itself and the sub-headline, also known as the “sub-head”. One way to think of it is like this: The headline is the bait that gets the prospect into the door and the sub-head is what you use to hook them in so they will keep reading.
A clear and concise headline is critical, but by itself, it usually is not enough to fully engage the reader. It needs help – in the form of a great, informative sub-head that boosts the clarity the reader gets from the headline.
The sub-head acts to reaffirm the reason why your reader has landed on your page or looked at your ad in the first place. It should set the stage for the story your content is about to tell them.
The Best Headlines Include Numbers
There is a whole body of research that proves that people using the Internet are astronomically more likely to click through on a headline that includes a number than one that simply includes words. This has something to do with the way our minds are wired.
Numbers express certainty. They subconsciously tell the reader that their message expressed in the headline is based on substance and fact, so people seeking solutions or answers online are naturally more attracted to headlines that include numbers than they are to just words.
The numbers you put in your headlines can include all kinds of figures, including percentages, the number of things on lists, time measurements, and so on:
“3-Day Free Trial for All New Subscribers”
“Top 5 Ways to Shed Weight Fast”
“Increase Sales by 30% in 30 Days Using This One Weird Trick”
Generally, the number will be in the main headline rather than the sub-head. But the information in the sub-head should support whatever number you include in the headline.
3 Fundamental Qualities
These three qualities are so widely used that headlines that don’t include them are often perceived as jarring or off-putting – and usually fail to convert. Successful marketers understand what works and what doesn’t, so they gravitate toward the tried and true in order to maximize their results.
If you keep your headlines clear and to the point, include sub-headlines that support the primary point of the main headline, and include numbers to give your headline substance and authority, you can exponentially increase your conversion rates regardless of what type of marketing document you are using.